Snohomish County optimistic about economy reopening after seeing state's first COVID-19 case in 2020

With Washington reopening the economy, Wednesday, turning the page in the COVID-19 pandemic is even more special for Snohomish County. The community saw the state’s first coronavirus case reported on January 19, 2020. Since then, 610 people have died from the virus and more than 37,000 people had confirmed cases, according to Snohomish Health District.

As of Wednesday, the number of reported vaccines administered in the county was 850, 681. The health district said about 67 percent of eligible people ages 16 and older have at least one dose. A spokesperson further explained the office only publishes data on Mondays, but said the latest case numbers and vaccine numbers were available online.

Though the county did not reach the state’s 70 percent vaccination initiation goal, people said they are encouraged progress is being made. They said the monumental day of reopening gives them optimism for the future.

"Today is all things new. We’re going to start today with all things new and move forward and start all over. Fresh new start," said Cheri "Nic" Nicolopoulos, owner of Nic’s Barbershop in Mukilteo. "This is my first day at work not wearing a mask. And I actually wore lipstick and I actually feel kind of weird. It just feels normal, but it’s exciting! It’s like your first day at your job. It’s like the first day jitters. It’s like oh I just opened my shop."

Nicolopoulos and her team wasted no time styling back-to-back clients, Wednesday. They hosted a special hour for guests to commemorate the reopening.

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"I said earlier that this was going to be an emotional day. I’m a hugger. And I just wanted to take my time to show the community that I’m very thankful and supportive to you guys as well as you’ve supported us and kept us going all this time," said Nicolopoulos. 

Her high-volume barbershop would average 125 people per day before coronavirus. After the shutdown, they closed for months—losing money and staff.

"It was kind of scary. $8 barbershop when you’re in full force, it’s good. But when you’re limited to how many people you do, all of the sudden $8 is ouch," said Nicolopoulos.

Now that business is back at full capacity, so is the barbershop talk.

"You want to know what we talk about? Ugh! Some of those home haircuts—God bless people for doing their home haircuts," said the shop owner.

Neighbors, business owners, even Mayor Jennifer Gregerson stopped by to enjoy the long-awaited day together.

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"Like everyone else in the community, COVID shaped my whole life for the last year and a half or so," said Gregerson. "A couple months from now, I think people will really start to get over some of that anxiety about seeing everyone’s faces and being kind of normal again. Then we’ll be really ready to celebrate our community."

Gregerson said sharing the moment and space with people at Nic’s Barbershop was a bit of a relief, but said she recognizes others in Mukilteo are still moving forward with caution.

"It’s a lot of trauma to go through this strange year. A lot of financial challenges, emotional loss. So, yes we’re back to normal today, but I think it will be a slow process," said Gregerson. "I encourage people just being kind and gentle moving forward."

Rebuilding the community together is something Nicolopoulos said she saw time and time again throughout the pandemic. 

"It took everybody. It took him and his business, it took us, it takes all of us. And I think the amazing thing for me is that it shows that Mukilteo is a very tight community and we all help each other out from business to business," she said.

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